May is Mental Health Awareness Month and our lives continue to be hammered with stories about lives undone by mental health issues. Our minds and souls need rest.
Our lives are bombarded with the need to be in the know, and to keep up with the Jones’ per say. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook keep us informed while news apps keep pinging our phones and smart watches every few seconds to make sure we know what is going on around us.
I find it all a bit exhausting.
When was the last time you truly relaxed?
Do We Know How to Relax?
Relaxation seems to be a foreign concept for many of us living in this time of life. We have chores to complete, businesses to run, parents and children to take care of, and work that piles up if we dare to take a single day off from the rat race.
Do we think God intended for us to live this fast-paced life?
I don’t think God intended this for us. When He created the Garden of Eden, there was work to do, but it didn’t appear to have deadlines. However, after sin entered the world, our lives took on new meaning.
I recently returned from nine days in Hawaii, and let me tell you, it was gorgeous. The deep blue ocean water mixed with a teal so clear you could see the sea life below was stunning.
As we drove and walked in God’s beauty, it was a chance for us to slow down and relax. We had things we wanted to do each day, and it seemed like the days went by too quickly, and then God would send us a reminder of His promise – a rainbow.
One day, we were walking through the National Cemetery of the Pacific, when the most stunning rainbow appeared with its brilliant colors. It was absolutely gorgeous!
Sometimes, we need a reminder that God loves us, sees us, hears our prayers, and knows we are struggling. He also invites us to pull up a chair and rest awhile.
Catch Your Breath
Today, I want to invite you to catch your breath, if only for a moment. Psalm 23 is a popular psalm and provides comfort for the weary traveler. I did a mini-series in Psalm 23 in episodes 18, 19, 20, 21 that challenge us to pull up a chair and relax.
Everything I Need…
However, today, I want to focus on the beginning part of Psalm 23, specifically the first few verses where the psalmist challenges us to rest and catch our breath.
It says in Psalm 23:1,
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.”
The psalmist begins with the understanding that the God we know, the God we worship is our Shepherd. We know who He is and we recognize His voice.
If the Lord is not your shepherd, I encourage you to pause for a moment, and ask why He is not. This psalm encourages the believer and non-believer in different ways.
As believers, when we know and have a personal relationship with the God of the Universe, we realize how integral He is to our lives. This does not mean that life will be easier in any way.
Believers are challenged just like non-believers; however, when life it’s get tough we know who we can turn to for our strength.
When we think about the second half of this verse,
“I have everything I need.” – Psalm 23:1b
We tend to think about the things we own or possess. Our heart naturally gravitate towards the possessions in our lives. For some that might be the stuff inside your home or apartment or your vehicles or you fill in the blank.
When God looks at us, He sees our hearts, not our stuff, and He told us this in 1 Samuel when the prophet Samuel was anointing David to be king. He told Samuel that man looks at the outside, but He looks at the heart.1
In Max Lucado’s book, Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms, he says,
“When God thinks of you, he may see your compassion, your devotion, your tenderness or quick mind, but he doesn’t think of your things.”2
Green Pastures and Calm Waters
When we think about rest, and catching our breath, the imagery found in Psalm 23:2 invites us to put up a hammock and stay awhile. It says,
“He lets me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water.”3
The green pastures invite us to stop and rest for a moment or several moments. It beckons us to enjoy a meal together in the peace and serenity of a life moving slowly.
When our lives are filled with chaos, we miss the still moments of the good shepherd calling us to stop for a moment. The moment doesn’t need to be for days or weeks, but it can be an invitation to dine with the good shepherd. He wants you to slow down and catch your breath…thus, the inviting green pasture.
As we slow down, the inviting green pastures give way to calm waters that nourish our minds and souls. When we pause to drink in the words of the good shepherd, we hear His voice telling us how special we are. He gently whispers in our spirit, I am here for you my child, you can take a breath, it’s okay.
As we refresh in the green pastures and drink in the good shepherd’s goodness, He reminds us that He gives us strength. We were never meant to ride the red line, and run ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
Psalm 23:3 says,
“He gives me new strength. He leads me on paths that are right for the good of his name.”4
Sometimes we lose our way, and God wants us to know that He’s got us. He is right there with us, walking beside us, carrying us when we need it, and guiding us along the path that leads to goodness and mercy.
The green pastures and calm waters remind us to slow down, rest, drink in the good shepherd’s goodness, in order to build strength for the journey ahead.
When we bypass the green pastures and calm waters, and forget to rest, we burn ourselves up. I want to encourage you…to stop, slow down, rest in the green pastures and drink in His goodness so you can do the work He has called you to perform.
Normally, I pray to close our time, but I came across this prayer that I want to leave with you today,
“You are a great God. Your character is Holy. Your truth is absolute. Your strength is unending. Your discipline is fair…Your provisions are abundant for our needs. Your light is adequate for our path. Your grace is sufficient for our sins…You are never early, never late…You sent your Son in the fullness of time and will return at the consummation of time. Your plan is perfect. Bewildering. Puzzling. Troubling. But perfect.”5
- Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms – Max Lucado (book)
- Pull Up a Chair and Rest Awhile (podcast series)
- Beside the Still Waters (message)
- 1 Samuel 16:7 ↩︎
- Safe In The Shepherd’s Arms – Max Lucado, pg. 22 ↩︎
- Psalm 23:2 ↩︎
- Psalm 23:3 ↩︎
- Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms, Max Lucado, p.18 (from “He Reminded us of You” (A Prayer For a Friend). ↩︎
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